I’m remembering the Sunday an elder in our church offered me a new electronic gizmo. It was a replacement for the wireless lavaliere microphone that had blessed my sermon with a fascinating musical soundtrack a couple of weeks before. I would say that the Garth Brooks anthem had come out of nowhere and into our church audio amplifier, but that wouldn’t be precise. It really didn’t come out of nowhere; it came out of a Mack truck rolling by on Rt. 89.

“Riding the gain” (an old radio term) was our P. A. expert Neil, and he got the music turned off within seconds, but not before the interference had jolted the congregation
from the inspired second point of my sermon. So, this new gizmo had arrived with a guarantee to block Garth Brooks, Ozzy Osbourne, and Turk (I have no idea…) from commenting on my exegesis.

When I shared this latest “wireless” incident with the local clergy at our weekly coffee conclave at the Village Cafe, you can imagine the stories that surfaced. (Except for wedding stories, are there any tales more fun to tell than those wireless mic epics?) While each sounds as familiar as an urban legend, my friends claim each is true. Like the church on the main highway in Poukeepsie, NY where the minister had just pronounced the benediction, only to hear a trucker’s CB blare out over the sanctuary speakers, “That’s a big 10-4, good buddy.”

Or the week there was “cross talk” (another old radio term) between the P. A. systems of two neighboring churches. While the Presbyterian pastor was concluding his sermon, the Methodist pastor’s benediction squawked over the Presbyterian P. A. speakers. The Presbyterian could see the look of envy come over his congregation as they realized the Methodists were already on their way home! It’s said that after church the Presbyterian preacher stood on his church sidewalk shaking his fist (good-naturedly, of course) at the catty-corner Methodists as they drove by.

And I remember well the Easter Sunday the senior pastor and I were using wireless microphones for the first time. Though we were in another building, I knew (being an old radio guy myself) that I should keep the mic off until the service started. As I proceeded to share a rather humorous (albeit inappropriate) story about two old monks, a panicked parishioner rushed into the building shouting, “We can hear you! The people can hear you in the sanctuary! Don’t say the punch line! It’s awful!” The senior pastor, you see, was not an old radio guy, and his mic was on. That’s how we learned 1) what the mute button is for, 2) how far those radio signals travel, and 3) the kind of off-color humor our parishioners don’t care to hear on Easter morning. As I led the call to worship a few minutes later, facing a grinning congregation, my face was as red as the Easter sunrise. And they were full of grace.